Murder in Dealey Plaza

What We Know Now that We Didn't Know Then

by James H. Fetzer, Ph.D.


Who are you going to believe—me or your lying eyes?
—Richard Pryor

    Although you would not know from reading it in your daily newspaper, watching it on the evening news, or hearing it from the federal government, during the past decade—especially since 1992—enormous advances have been made in unraveling one of the greatest crimes of our time, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The murder was a state offense for which no one has ever been convicted. After more than 35 years, many Americans tend to think what happened will never be known and there is nothing new to learn. That opinion may be widely held, but it is also completely wrong. We know vastly more now than we ever have before, and we are learning more every day. What happened to this nation on 22 November 1963 occurred as a result of a meticulously executed conspiracy, whose character was concealed by a massive cover-up.

    Indeed, unraveling the cover-up has provided an access route to understanding the conspiracy, which deprived the American people of their democratically-elected leader. A research group whose members came together in shared outrage over the blatant abuse of a leading medical journal in a crude but effective effort to perpetuate the cover-up—with the complicity of our nation's press—has discovered that JFK autopsy X-rays have been fabricated, autopsy photographs have been distorted or destroyed, the brain seen in official diagrams and photographs belonged to someone other than JFK, the autopsy report was a sham, and a great deal of the photographic record, including the Zapruder film of the assassination, has been edited by means of sophisticated techniques.

    We have made strenuous efforts to bring these findings to the attention of the public, including repeated communications with The New York Times, ABC News, and the U.S. Department of Justice, but to no avail, as we have documented in Assassination Science (1998), a collection of studies devoted to placing research on the death of JFK upon an objective and scientific foundation (Appendix A). The authors whose work appears there include a world authority on the human brain who is also an expert on wound ballistics (who has confirmed the substitution of someone else's brain for that of JFK); a Ph.D. in physics who is also board certified in radiation oncology (who has verified the fabrication of JFK autopsy X-rays); and several experts on various aspects of the photographic record (who have found detailed evidence of film and photo alteration).

    As a professional philosopher and former Marine Corps officer, I have served as a catlytic agent by nurturing, promoting, and directing many of these efforts, such as by moderating a press conference in New York City on 18 November 1993, during which important medical findings were presented; by organizing a symposium on the alteration of the Zapruder film for a national convention on 21-22 November 1996; and by conducting the first professional conference on the death of JFK on a major campus at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 14-16 May 1998. It has been my great pleasure to work with the most highly qualified individuals to ever study the assassination of JFK and I welcome the opportunity to advance their publication.

    The present volume extends and deepens our past findings by taking advantage of new evidence provided by the release of more than 60,000 documents and records by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), an entity of five persons created by Congress in the wake of the interest in this case rekindled by Oliver Stone's film, JFK, just as the House Select Committee on Assassinations' (HSCA) reinvestigation of 1977-78 had been incited by a television broadcast of the Zapruder film. The evidence to which we have now had access not only substantiates our previous findings but also enables us to understand in rather precise detail how the cover-up was conducted.

    The fabrication of the X-rays, the substitution of someone else's brain, revision of the autopsy, photographic fakery, and the destruction and alteration of other crucial evidence—including the Presidential Lincoln limousine, which was "a crime scene on wheels"—was carried out by specific individuals who have specific names, including the autopsy physicians, James J. Humes and J. Thornton Boswell; John Ebersole, the officer in charge of radiology; Secret Service agents Roy Kellerman and William Greer, who were in charge of the limousine at the time of the assassination; and the President's personal physician, Admiral George G. Burkley, among others; but also unwitting employees of other government agencies, including two at the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), Homer McMahon and Bennett Hunter, who had a film of the crime in their hands the weekend it occurred.

    Others at the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI may bear greater or lesser degrees of responsibility for the alteratation and destruction of evidence. Homer McMahon and Bennett Hunter, for example, were paid by the CIA but were not agents of the CIA, and there appears to be no basis for suspecting their complicity in covering things up. Others, whose specific names and specific roles are explained and explored in various of the studies that follow, however, obviously assumed leading roles in managing the evidence whose alteration and destruction was ingeniously contrived. If one were to ask why officers of the Navy, agents of the Secret Service, and other persons associated with the FBI and the CIA should have assumed such roles, the answer is all too obvious.

    While many theories have been advanced about who may have been responsible for the death of JFK, such as the Mafia, pro- or anti-Castro Cubans, or the KGB, it should be apparent that the Mafia, for example, could not have extended its reach into Bethesda Naval Hospital to fabricate X-rays under the control of officers of the Navy, agents of the Secret Service, and the President's personal physician. Neither pro- nor anti-Castro Cubans could have substituted diagrams and photographs of another brain—much less someone else's brain—for that of JFK. Nor could the KGB have had the opportunity to examine and reproduce an altered version of the Zapruder film, even though it may—like our CIA—have had the ability to do so. Nor could any of these things have been done by the alleged assassin, Lee Oswald, who was either in custody or already dead.

    The principle of scientific reasoning known as Occam's Razor says that simpler theories should be preferred to more complex theories, provided that they are adequate to explain the evidence. What properly counts as "evidence" in this case, however, turns out to be a complicated question, where our most important contributions have involved discriminating between authentic and inauthentic evidence, where much of the evidence is a mixture or a blend of both original and artifical features to create deceptive composite fabrications. Most medical scientists, even forensic pathologists, are not accustomed to considering the possibility that their evidence may be fraudulent, which has contributed to the difficulty of finally securing a suitable foundation for differentiating between theories of the crime.

    The greatest obstacle confronting the government account is to explain why so much of the evidence has been altered, created, or destroyed. The simplest explanation for government involvement in the cover-up, after all, is government involvement in the crime. It should not have been necessary to frame a guilty man. The studies published in this volume provide the simplest explanation for what happened to the evidence in this case. The conclusions they support afford understanding of the conspiracy itself, its scope and its duration. Unpacking the cover-up illuminates what has to be one the most extensive conspiracies of the 20th century. A judicial verdict may be said to be "beyond reasonable doubt" when no alternative explanation for the crime is reasonable. In this sense, the case has been settled beyond reasonable doubt.

    Those who prefer to avoid unpleasant truths should proceed no further. Confronting what happened to the United States of America on 22 November 1963 is not for the fainthearted. One of the most perceptive critics of The Warren Report (1964), Harold Weisberg, shared the skepticism of Bertrand Russell about the investigation, but also proved that one did not have to be a genius to appreciate what was going on. Reading his observations for the first time, you may think they are exaggerations:

[The Warren Commission and its Report] both ignored or suppressed what was opposed to the predetermined conclusion that Oswald alone was the assassin. This meant that the destruction, alteration and manipulation of evidence had to he "overlooked." It was. This meant that impossible testimony from preposterous witnesses had to be credited. It was. This meant that invalid reconstructions had to be made. They were. This meant that valuable evidence available to the Commission had to be avoided. It was. This meant that the incontrovertible proofs in the photographs had to be replaced by elaborate and and invalid reenactments which, in turn, had to be based upon inaccuracies, misinformation and misrepresentation, which is what was done. (Weisberg, Whitewash 1965, p. 51)

What we have found, alas, is that Russell and Weisberg were right, not simply about details, but about the heart of The Warren Report, which is corrupt to its core. What we know now differs only in quantity and quality from what they knew then.

    It would be comforting to believe that discovering the truth, however bitter, about an event of this magnitude might lead to its dissemination to the American people by the American government. But, as recent developments clearly illustrate, that appears most unlikely. The Department of Justice has recently spent $16 million taxpayer dollars to take custody of the Zapruder film, in spite of repeated warnings that the film almost certainly was faked (Appendix B). The government went ahead with the purchase anyway. The Washington Post has now reported that, prior to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the CIA—our CIA—had learned that the Soviet Union already knew the date of the planned attack, but went ahead anyway. Obviously, the Commander-in-Chief was not apprised, or he would have called it off. This was clearly an act of treason, if any acts are treasonous. At times, the President's ability to affect the government appears to be no greater than that of ordinary citizens.

J. H. F.

--From Murder in Dealey Plaza: What We Know Now that We Didn't Know Then, by James H. Fetzer(Editor). © August 2000


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